Monday, January 31, 2011

Ladybug Letters!

The weather here at the Good Old Days Farm has been a bit too chilly to do much out side... So we've brought the outside in, with our new game.  (Kinda sorta.)  A while back we got creative with some egg cartons, paint and stickers.  The ladybugs are just two buttons glued together.  Inside each compartment is a different letter.  (Except we had to put "c" and "k" together and skip "y"... since it makes 3 different sounds... in order to put a 26 letter alphabet in 24 spaces).  We put the ladybug in the egg carton, close it, shake and open again... Then the little farmhands have to say what sounds is made by whatever letter the ladybug is sitting on.

This game is so much fun if you happen to be a little Farmhand who is learning how to read!  It is one of the suggestions in "Happy Phonics" ... a learn-to-read program that uses cardstock games to teach little ones how to read.  My little farmgirl loves workbooks and will actually complain to Papa the Farmer if I don't let her have enough workbook time... But, I like the games best! And even little workbook-girl has to admit that these games are fun! Diane, at Love To Learn has done a wonderful job of putting together a step-by-step reading program based on non-competitive games.  After all, what parent child doesn't like to play games? 

And by the way, if you put numbers instead of letters in each compartment, Voila!  Instant adding, subtracting or multiplying game!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Beautiful Sight!

Today, I saw the most beautiful thing!  Here is a picture of the beautiful thing I saw:


You are probably wondering, “Why did she post a picture of a propane truck?  And why does she think that’s beautiful?”  Well, it just goes to show you, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Last week, this is what The Good Old Days Farm looked like:


Above is the front yard. Here is a picture of one of the gardens:


Ugh!  Now, you might think it’s pretty.  Or, if you live somewhere cold you might this “little bit” of snow is no big deal.  But I grew up in Canada.  I lived there for 24 years.  I’ve done my time.  I did not move to Texas so that I could see snow.  In fact, I lived in Guyana (South America) for a year and I’m pretty sure that the Garden of Eden had Guyanese weather.  Ice, cold and snow – I am convinced – is a product of sin and not part of God’s original plan.  That’s my personal theory on the matter.  (And come on… even you people who live in cold places and claim to like it and want to argue with me about this… when you imagine yourself in heaven, do you picture yourself all bundled up in a snowsuit?  I think not.)

The Little Farmhands love snow!  Perhaps they like it so much because they only see it for 2 or 3 days a year.  They were born here in Texas.  And since snow is such a rarity here, I allowed them a special treat!  Maple Syrup Snow! 


The instructions are easy!  Just boil maple syrup and pour it over the snow.  (It works better if you’re outside where it’s cold.  I’ve turned into a weather wimp and so we did it inside.) 


The hot maple syrup instantly hardens into ooey-gooey deliciousness when it touches the snow.


Let’s just say the Little Farmhands liked it. 


A lot.


Right in the middle of all this snow, we needed our propane tank filled up.  To save you the gory details of a very long and complicated story, I called the propane company to schedule a refill and got lousy customer service and so we decided to switch propane companies.  The new company we found is 69 cents/gallon cheaper than the old company, which works out to $172 in savings in just the first fill up.  So we switched.  The only catch was that the new company couldn’t come to install right away.  We decided to wait for them.
So for a week and a half now, we’ve had no propane.

Fortunately it’s been cold, so we’ve had a fire going in the woodstove anyway.  We put a huge pot of water on top the woodstove and let it heat up.  That’s what we bathed the baby in.  The rest of us used it too.  We’ve been cooking the same way, perpetually making tea and soup on the top of the woodstove. 


Doesn’t the soup look delicious:


Then, right in the middle of this, our pipes froze.  So then I had no propane and no water.  (Good thing the snow lasted for a week because I was melting it to make water.)  That was one long, hard day.

Anyway, during the week and a half that we had no propane, everybody got tired of soup.  One night we decided to do something different and we had baked potatoes!  We wrapped the potatoes in aluminum foil and placed them in the fireplace directly on the coals where they baked.  Mmmm!  They were warm and tasted good, but all the ashes that got on the aluminum foil sure made a mess!  A visitor dropped by while the mess was still all out on the table and she got a chuckle out of it.  “Oh look!  You’re camping!”  she said.

Yes, it sure felt like camping!  And like any other camping, it was fun while it lasted but now I’m glad to be home and back to normal life again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unexpected Visitors!

In the time that my computer has been grumpy about allowing me to post pictures, we've had two unusual visitors here at the "Good Old Days Farm"! 

A week or so ago Papa the Farmer and the Little Farmhands were down by the road fixing the gate.  I was walking up the hill back to the house to fix dinner and something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.  I looked and something small and black was moving across the yard.  A moment later I realized my small black furry visitor had a white stripe down his back.  You guessed it!  We had a skunk!

cropped skunk front view

I decided to watch the skunk to see where it was going.  If we have a skunk living somewhere on our property, that’s definitely something I want to know about!  Ignorance is bliss, but not when it comes to skunks!  So I watched as he beelined straight for the children’s play area.  By this time Papa the Farmer and the little farmhands had joined me and we were all watching together.  I didn’t want him making a new home near the play area so we scared him away.  That’s when he headed for the open door of Papa the Farmer’s work shed!  We all laughed and laughed as Papa the Farmer tried to outrun the skunk to reach the shed first.  The last thing he wants is to be surprised by a skunk who has moved into the shed the next time he goes down there to work!

cropped running skunk
(Sorry that the pictures are blurry… but we were running trying to get pictures without getting too close!)

The children had an idea to scare the skunk away.  “Let’s let the dog loose and he can scare it away!” they suggested.  I had visions of the entire family plus the dog crowded in the bathtub later that night bathing in tomato juice!  Finally the skunk wandered off into the bushes and headed towards a vacant property.  I think that will be a much more suitable home for him.

cropped skunk leaving
Bye-bye Mr. Skunk!

Our other unexpected visitor was smaller than the skunk, but equally unwelcome.  Here’s a picture of him:
  cropped mouse

A mouse.  Now, before any city people reading this blog judge me for having a mouse in my house, let me just tell you…  mice coming indoors during cold weather is just part of living in the country.  It’s a trade off.  We don’t hear traffic, we don’t breathe polluted air, but we have to set mouse traps every year.  That’s just part of the deal.  Once in a while we’ll see a mouse scurry across the floor or we’ll notice tell-tale signs that something is trying to get into the pantry and we know it’s time to set traps.  That’s not unusual.  What was unusual about this mouse was the way I discovered that he was in the house.  The little boy-farmhand was crouched down in the kitchen with his back to me.

“What are you doing, Farm-boy?” I asked.  (Ok, I don’t really call him “Farm-boy” in real life… that’s just for the benefit of the blog.)

“Petting our new mouse!”  he delightedly answered. 


What kind of mouse just sits around, lays out on the kitchen floor for an hour at a time and lets little 4 year old boys pet them.  This is the second mouse in January that has acted strange like this.  The first one was on New Year’s Day and I almost stepped on him before I saw him!  Even then, he just sat where he was and didn’t try to run away.  (As I write this, it occurs to me… perhaps this isn’t the second strange mouse this year… perhaps this is the same mouse who just came back for a second visit!) 

The picture above was taken yesterday.  This morning when we woke up, our little mouse-friend was stretched out on the kitchen floor taking a nap.  Papa the Farmer and I actually spent a few minutes this morning trying to decide if the mouse was alive or dead before we swept him up in a dustpan and took him outside.  Oh yeah… That’s how we got rid of him.  We just swept him up in a dustpan.  And he was alive.

Strange mouse.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our New Friend!

Well, our computer is not working correctly and I can't add photos to my blog posts right now.  To me, pictures are the best part of a blog post!  I could tell you about the skunk that showed up yesterday and was walking around our property, trying to climb in the sandbox.  And I could tell you about how we chased him trying to get a great picture (which was pointless, since I can't even post it!).  I could also tell you about the children's plan  to just let the dog loose so that he could scare the skunk away and my visions of all of us (including the dog!) in sharing a tomato-juice shower if that had happened.  But all that just isn't the same if I can't include a picture.

So that's why my blog posts have been few and far between lately.

But there is one thing I can still write about.  My little farmhands have a new friend!  Avery is a little girl who is the same age as my little Farmhands but she has spent her entire life in and out of the hospital.  She has lots of medical issues but the saddest part of her story is that her immune system is so compromised that she can't be around other children.  Well, maybe she can't come over to visit, but she can receive mail!  And my little farmhands are having lots of fun drawing pictures for her!

I love this picture of Avery!  Doesn't she look like just the kind of girl who would like to be friends with little farmhands?

Avery looks great in this picture, but the reality is that she's not doing very well right now.  She is in the Intensive Care Unit right now with various medical issues and needs prayer!  Please take a few moments to visit her website. You can see a video of her story here and read her parents' online journal here.  And please pray for Avery!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2011!

Happy New Year!  I'm excited for 2011 to be here, although I have to say that I'm pretty glad to see 2010 in the rear view mirror (at long last!).  I feel relieved, like somehow I have survived.  Frankly, 2010 has felt very much like running a marathon.  I've never actually run a marathon, but if I did, it would feel like this year has felt.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm thankful for the events of this year.  I'm thankful for the layoff.  I'm thankful for the time we've gotten to spend with Papa the Farmer at home!  I feel really positive about the changes that 2010 brought.  

It's just that change is hard.  2010 took me out of my comfort zone.  Way out of my comfort zone. I'm the kind of girl who really just likes everything to stay the same.  Is that too much to ask?

But here we are!  And like everyone else, I have some goals for 2011.  Some personal goals and some farm goals.  I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  Because I know that I'm going to miss days and then I'll feel like a failure for not keeping my New Year's Resolution.  So I make goals instead.

One of the wonderful things that has happened to me this past year is that I met a lady named Pam.  Pam has 6 children.  They are quiet and obedient.  When you visit her house, even if she wasn't expecting you,  everything is in its place, the house smells wonderful, there is peaceful music playing in the background and there's not a piece of dirty laundry anywhere.  I mean it.  I actually inspected her laundry room one time.  (How rude is that?!)  No dirty laundry.  (She has a laundry system - I'll post about that another time!).   She bakes her own bread, she homeschools the children and did I mention that she has no dirty laundry in her house?

6 children and no dirty laundry!  I call her "Perfect Pam."  Ok, she's not really perfect, but anyone who has 6 children and no dirty laundry has earned that title!

So, when Pam told me there was a housekeeping book that she was learning so much from, I figured I'd better pay attention.  She didn't really describe it to me.  She just kept saying, "Wow.  WOW." 

I figure, if she's gleaning a few hints from a housekeeping book, I'd better buy the book.  No questions asked.  Maybe if I read whatever she's reading I can have 3 children and no dirty laundry.  So I bought it.

Wow.  WOW.  The author Kim Brenneman has 9 children.  Having this book is like having a Titus 2 woman sitting right in my very own living room!  The book is so full of practical, godly advice to mothers!  From coping strategies to organizational tips, household management to a Proverbs 31 Bible Study, "Large Family Logistics" covers it all...  My only complaint is the title.  Yes, the book is wonderful for large families, but families of any size could benefit from the strategies in this book.

So my goals for this year more or less revolve around this book.  There are 48 chapters.  Each week I plan to read one chapter and implement what I learn.  Slow progress?  Yes.  But at least it's progress! 

Papa the Farmer and I sat down and made some other goals.  Here are a few:
-We plan to read the Bible and 8 other spiritual books together this year.  (Yes, that sounds like a lot, but it's only going to take an hour a day.  And spending that time together will be good for our marriage!)

-We plan to implement this scripture memory system in our family.  The children will use the ABC Bible verses from their preschool program by (Mrs. Candace's lessons do a great job teaching the children their alphabet, numbers and colors in a scriptural context) and Papa the Farmer and I will be using various verses from the Memorization clubs at

-Of course, everybody has fitness goals.  The problem is that I can't exactly drive to the gym to go work out... But I have figured out that walking around the perimeter of our property 3 1/2 times is equal to 1 mile!  It works great!  I get the children busy doing something and walk around the property once.  (It only takes a few minutes and if they're outside I can see them the whole time!)  When I come back up to the house, I check on them and then walk around the perimeter again and again until I meet my goal!  Sometimes a little creativity goes a long way towards getting things done!

(Edit:  For those who have asked, you can purchase "Large Family Logistics at Vision ForumGrace & Truth Books or